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Thursday, November 16, 2006

18th Century ideas of the novel

How was the novel perceived by many in the 18th Century in England:

Sir anthony Absolute, in Richard Sheridan's 'The Rivals,' says the circulating library is, "an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge." The Evangelical Magazine called novels, "instruments of abomination and ruin." People who enjoyed them had minds that were contaminated and unfit for serious study, or for the "delightful exercises and enjoyments of religion." Laurence Sterne's 'Sentimental Journey' was thought to lead innocents (at least by Vicesimus Knox) to "disease, fancy, madness, suicide, and a gibbet."

Well there you are, we're all doomed. Funny too how the the US religious fanatics, right wing, and current administration continue to describe books and libraries in the same light. That in itself is an extremely sorry statement.

What's on the reading list for those who want something special? Try out Airstream by Patricia Young. Her short stories were the absolute best out of the hundreds I've recently read. Wow. She has a wonderful sensitivity to words, a beautiful economy, she says twenty things with ten words. Simply amazing writing. Why wasn't she on the Giller shortlist?